But I won't be buying a Sony player anytime soon...
Published on February 17, 2008 By Bunnahabhain In DVD
A couple of articles in today's paper make it clear that HD DVD is all but dead:

"Wal-Mart sides with Blu-ray" Globe And Mail Technology - Wal-Mart

"Toshiba to give up on HD DVD, end format war" Globe And Mail Technology - Toshiba

I rarely shop at Wal-Mart, but I can't deny their power to persuade the buying public. Enough major players in the retail seqment are already making it hard for HD DVD to survive (Netflix and Best Buy most recently).

But if the reports are true on Toshiba throwing in the towel, then the "war" has been won.

It's about time for Sony. I mean, how many times can you keep promoting losing formats and not give up trying to be difficult? In the 70s there was the Elcaset - a fat cassette tape with higher fidelty than the standard cassette tape. In the 80s there was Beta, and in the 90s there was the MiniDisc.

Adopters of all of these formats were losers in the long run. Sure, they may have got some mileage out of their devices, but they all lost in terms of interoperability - their media had to be converted to another format in order to survive. That or be purchased again.

Sony has rubbed me the wrong way for a long time now. Not just by annoying me for fragmenting the market - that's enough reason for me to boycott them - but with their products themselves. The few that I've owned have been less than spectacular.

The last time that I considered Sony for a major purchase was in 1995. I was looking for a relatively large-screen CRT TV - 32 inches or so. I really liked the picture on the Sony, and the perfectly flat screen was nice, but I ended up with a Panasonic GAOO. Sure, the screen wasn't perfectly flat, but the feature-set was much higher, and the remote control was out of this world. In comparison, the Sony remote looked like it was made in Russia.

A quick look on Best Buy's website shows me that Blu-ray players are also available from Pioneer, Samsung, and Sharp.

So Sony - you win. But you also lose. I won't be buying a damn thing with your name on it.

Comments
on Feb 17, 2008
Your post has more meat than mine - and you were earlier too ...

Seriously though, I only track this kind of thing as tech advisor to everyone I know. Myself, I never bought a standalone DVD player, and I don't even have a TV. When Blu-Ray gets cheap enough like DVD did that I could literally spend no extra and put one in my PC instead of a DVD, I will. But no standalone player, and not at the current market price. Give me digital downloads or give me books!

As far as format wars go - I'm glad this one was over before it drug on too long. Beta was a big problem in the 80s, but don't blame that one on Sony. Beta was out BEFORE VHS, and it was better. Not only that, but Beta was an already established format when VHS came out. JVC and some others were behind VHS, and promoted it via the "8 hour tape" which essentially slowed the tape down so slow that the picture quality was trash, but it was 8 hour! This is the reason most video from the 80s sucks balls now - people put their tapes on 8 hour mode and didn't realize that was why the quality sucked. With this format war, the two formats showed up at the same time really, so it's not like someone tried to disrupt an already established market. When my family bought a Beta VCR in the early 80s, everyone was still saying it was the one to get. VHS had shown up, but few places had it and everybody knew the quality was worse. There was no reason to buy it. Now any reasonably informed consumer knows that there are competing formats - and in most cases decided to wait.

That said, I'm glad it is over quickly. I'm rarely in favor of anything the studios do, but in this case, the media providers, studios, Netflix, etc, should be commended for making a firm commitment before the majority of the market bought players. Now hopefully high-def content will begin to have better market penetration since there aren't competing standards. And maybe in 3 or 5 years I'll drop one in my PC and renew my Netflix subscription.
on Feb 17, 2008

I'm no fan of Sony and really wish that HD DVD had wiped the floor with Blu-ray, but I'll offer this warning/suggestion when it comes to buying a Blu-ray player that is anything other than a Playstation 3: be careful.

While I didn't want to hand money directly to Sony, when I was researching potential Blu-ray players I quickly learned that the *most upgradeable* and *most future-proofed* Blu-ray players are the Playstation 3 systems.

If you buy from Panasonic, Samsung, etc., you are potentially buying a player that won't come with a network port built-in which means that you won't be able to upgrade that player to Profile 2.0

If you don't know the differences between the various profiles and don't understand what you miss by not having Profile 2.0 versus Profile 1.1 (which added features to Profile 1.0) then you'll probably be unhappy later when you find out that your non-Sony player can't connect to the web to get web-enabled updates, can't show picture-in-picture commentary and extra information, etc.

HD DVD had their feature set right to begin with.  Thanks to Sony, and their friends that created Blu-ray, being rushed and behind somewhat in development their features trailed the hardware that was originally released and early adopters got systems that lack anything but the ability to play the basic movie on a disc.

Basically what I'm saying is that if you don't wish to buy a player that isn't going to be somewhat obsolete, don't buy a non-PS3 until after the other hardware manufacturers get their Profile 2.0 players to market, and even then you may want to wait until you be assured that such players can go beyond that spec up to any later specifications that may come along.

on Feb 17, 2008
Such is the nature of technology. I always wait until the dust settles before buying any new formats or technologies. Those that jump in right at the beginning invariably get screwed.
on Feb 17, 2008
Basically what I'm saying is that if you don't wish to buy a player that isn't going to be somewhat obsolete, don't buy a non-PS3 until after the other hardware manufacturers get their Profile 2.0 players to market, and even then you may want to wait until you be assured that such players can go beyond that spec up to any later specifications that may come along.

Thanks for the advice terp. I was waiting for the dust to settle before I began to investigate what to buy. You've opened my eyes to the fact that there is more to this than I thought.

Such is the nature of technology. I always wait until the dust settles before buying any new formats or technologies. Those that jump in right at the beginning invariably get screwed.

I had good luck being an early adopter when CDs came around and a fairly early adopter when DVD came out. But this time I will move more cautiously. Sounds like it's pretty easy to get burned!
on Feb 17, 2008

Thanks for the advice terp. I was waiting for the dust to settle before I began to investigate what to buy. You've opened my eyes to the fact that there is more to this than I thought.

No problem on the advice (always free, most of the time worth the price you paid for it )

The issue with the various Profiles that Blu-ray currently supports is part of why I had really hoped that Blu-ray would flame out.  Unfortunately once Warners jumped over to being exclusively Blu-ray, things really started lining up against HD DVD.

I still very much suspect that Sony and the BDA (Blu-ray Disc Association) likely provided some financial considerations to Warners to make the jump, and probably also provided some sort of incentive to Netflix, Best Buy and Wal-Mart to make the decisions that they did too.  Regardless, somehow the BDA convinced the retailers that they really didn't need to support HD DVD at all, and Toshiba seems to have decided that they've spent enough trying to prop-up the format.

I've had players for both formats for a while now and typically preferred HD DVD because the feature set was more complete and the discs normally offered better extras on HD DVD than on Blu-ray.  I'm keeping the HD DVDs that I have now, buying a few more of my favorites and then proceeding cautiously on buying Blu-ray discs.  I'll keep reading reviews (HighDefDigest.com remains a great place to read reviews of both HD DVD and Blu-ray releases) and try to determine what few Blu-ray titles deserve my purchase.  I'd still prefer not to reward Sony and their friends in the BDA by purchasing discs that don't offer features that were available on HD DVD releases, and that skimp on extras.  I also refuse to be conned into having to 'double dip' to get a later release that offers the features that should have been there initially but were 'saved' for a 'special collector's edition' or something similar.

I have to admit that I'll probably buy a few Disney titles as they have releases that I'm most interested in.  Which brings me back to one last thing that I'd have to say helped Sony and their friends win this format war.  If Disney was on the HD DVD side HD DVD would have won hands down.

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